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Max Verstappen tops the timesheets in final practice ahead of qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix

Max Verstappen tops the timesheets in final practice ahead of qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix as Red Bull star goes six tenths of a second quicker than world championship rival Lewis HamiltonMax Verstappen went fastest in the final practice session for the Austrian GP Verstappen, 23, holds an 18-point lead over Lewis Hamilton in the standings The Dutchman showed his superior pace, going six tenths faster than the Brit Hamilton goes into the race this weekend having signed a new deal at Mercedes 

Max Verstappen gave an indication of what to expect from this afternoon’s qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix after going more than half a second quicker than Lewis Hamilton in final practice.

The Red Bull star holds an 18-point lead over the seven-time world champion heading into the race at the Red Bull Ring, having won at the same venue last weekend.  

Hamilton, 36, had shown positive signs in Friday’s practice sessions but Verstappen emphasised his team’s superior pace in Saturday morning’s practice as the drivers prepare for qualifying at 2pm BST. 

Max Verstappen topped the timesheets in the final practice session ahead of the Austrian GP

The Dutchman, 23, returned to the Red Bull Ring bidding to emulate his victory last weekend

Verstappen clocked in a fastest lap time of 1:04.591 while Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas was second quickest with a time half a second slower than the Red Bull man.

Hamilton was third fastest, 0.686 seconds slower than the world championship leader. 

The Briton enters this weekend’s race in buoyant mood having signed a two-year extension with Mercedes.  

Verstappen went half six tenths quicker than championship rival Lewis Hamilton this morning

The Red Bull star is 18 points ahead of the seven-time world champion heading into qualifying

Sportsmail understands that the two-year deal is worth £40m a year, with team principal Toto Wolff pulling out all the stops to tie his star man down to extended terms. 

Hamilton’s current one-year deal was concluded only weeks before this season started, raising doubts over how much longer he and Mercedes would stay together. Relations have since warmed up. 

Hamilton joined the Northamptonshire-based team in 2013 and has won six of his seven world titles in their cars — a partnership unparalleled in the sport’s history. 

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